Chief executive of COTA Australia Ian Yates has urged the new Coalition Government to dump the current rationing of aged care places following the release of new figures highlighting extended delays in older people accessing aged care.
Due to a lack of data, AIHW spokesperson Dr Pamela Kinnear said the report was unable to detail the proportion of people who were genuinely waiting for an available bed or package and those whose delayed entry was affected by other factors such as the sale of assets, hospital discharge policies or personal choice.
The report was also unable to specify the number of people who died before entering care or chose not to take up a care placement.
Mr Yates said on Thursday a rationed aged care system was placing unnecessary pressure on hospitals and families and the government should move, in consultation with the sector, to abolish aged care ratios.
“When an older person is assessed as requiring care, they should be able to access the support they need immediately and not have to wait for it,” he said.
“We also know that there are significant numbers of people who go into residential care because there are no home care packages available.
“That means there are fewer beds for people who actually do need residential care,” he said.
As part of the Living Longer, Living Better reforms, the target number of aged care place will increase from 113 per 1000 people over 70 to 125 per 1000 by 2021, but Mr Yates said the commitment did not go far enough.
As a first step, and to allay concerns over a potential blow out of government-subsidised aged care services under an uncapped system, Mr Yates called on the government to commission detailed research on the level of unmet demand for aged care services.
He said estimates to date had been rough and unreliable.
“[Treasury] knows that the ratios suppress demand but they don’t know by what amount.
“There is a need for some good quantitative and qualitative research on what level of unmet demand is out there.”
He said prior to the election, the Coalition said it would be guided by the Productivity Commission’s recommendations in setting future policy and had committed to cutting red tape.
“We urge them to now actively look to the abolition of aged care rationing which would fulfil both promises.”
The ending of a rationed aged care system was a key plank of the National Aged Care Alliance’s ‘End the aged care lottery’ election campaign.
Key report findings:
18 per cent of people entering residential aged care during 2011–12 did so within a week of being approved by an ACAT, 44 per cent did so within a month, and 70 per cent within 3 months.
The median time for entry into high care residential aged care in 2011-12 was 28 days in 2011-12.
For CACP packages, 11 per cent of people commenced the package within a week of their ACAT approval, 39 per cent within a month, and 70 per cent within 3 months.
The proportion of older people commencing a CACP package within 3 months varied across jurisdictions and ranged from 60 per cent in Tasmania to 80 per cent in Western Australia.
Read the full report at the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s website.
Related AAA coverage: Lengthy wait for aged care beds